The effect of sepsis on the synthesis of endogenous and secretory proteins, including vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and peptide YY (PYY), was determined in enterocytes from jejunum of rats. Sepsis was induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Control rats were sham-operated. Total endogenous and secreted protein synthesis was assessed in incubated jejunal enterocytes by measuring incorporation of 3H-phenylalanine into protein. Release of VIP and PYY into the medium of incubated enterocytes and cellular levels of the gut peptides were measured by radioimmunoassay. Sixteen hours after CLP, synthesis rates of both endogenous and secreted proteins were increased, and this effect of sepsis was most pronounced in cells from the lower parts of the villi and crypts. Enterocytes from septic rats released more VIP and PYY into the incubation medium, and approximately half of the peptides they released were newly synthesized VIP and PYY. Intracellular levels of VIP and PYY were increased as early as 4 hours after induction of sepsis. Our results suggest that sepsis stimulates the synthesis of endogenous and secretory proteins, including certain gut peptides, in small intestine mucosa. This is consistent with previous observations of increased circulating levels of VIP, PYY and other gastrointestinal hormones during sepsis. The biological significance of increased synthesis of gut peptides and other intestinal proteins during sepsis remains to be determined.
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